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A nurse’s job involves more than inserting IV lines. It also demands compassion, adaptability and ease in working as part of a team. This is especially true in an emergency setting, when a patient’s life depends on nurses remaining calm under pressure and collaborating with physicians and fellow nurses. When interviewing nursing applicants for emergency positions, recruiters assess not only skills and experience, but also motivations, character and working style.
Many recruiters want evidence that you’ve successfully handled the kinds of situations you’ll face every day on the emergency room floor. To do this, they rely on the behavioral question, which requires that you discuss a similar incident you dealt with at a previous job. For example, they might ask you to recount a time you treated a patient that did not respond to the standard treatment protocol. Or, they might ask you to describe a time when you disagreed with a doctor or fellow nurse regarding a patient’s treatment and discuss how you resolved the conflict.
Recruiters also want to probe your professional experience to evaluate everything from your clinical competency to your relationships with your co-workers. They’ll often ask why you left your last job, for example, or what you most liked and disliked about your previous position. In addition, they’ll likely ask you to describe your previous job duties or your typical work day. Prepare to discuss specific aspects of your past experience, including responsibilities generally handled by ER nurses. They might ask if you’ve treated certain kinds of cases, administered specific medications and treatments or used equipment, machinery or other tools standard to emergency medicine.
Interest and Motivations
Employers want assurance that you’re applying for an emergency nursing position solely out of a passion for the job, not just because you need a paycheck. They’ll often ask how you became interested in ER nursing and why you chose it over other specialties. In addition, they’ll scrutinize your interest in their facility and the position. They might ask why you want to work at the hospital and what attracted you to the job. They’ll also likely want to know how much you know about the organization. They’re looking for indications that you’ll be committed to the job and to the hospital, and that you won’t jump ship if something better comes along.
Many nursing recruiters seek a specific type of person when hiring ER nurses. For example, they might look for someone with excellent interpersonal skills who can communicate well with colleagues and work as part of a team even in the middle of a crisis. To assess your temperament and character, they might ask how former supervisors or coworkers would describe you. They might also ask you to describe your greatest strengths and weaknesses or choose two or three words that best describe your personality. By delving into your emotional and mental characteristics, they can better determine if you’ll fit in with the rest of the ER staff.